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The First Year: Research Rotations & Selecting a Thesis Advisor

Clinical & Population Health Research program students: Please speak to your Program Director for more information.

Basic Biomedical Science students: The information outlined below is not all-inclusive. Please familiarize yourself with all of the requirements as outlined in the Student Handbook

Research Rotation and Thesis Lab Commitment

There are five Research Rotation Sessions – two each in the Spring and Fall semesters, and one in the Summer term.  See Academic Calendar for exact start and end dates. 

Most rotation sessions are eight weeks long, with some variability in length to accommodate observed holidays and academic events. 

Students are required to rotate in three distinct research groups in the first three Rotation Sessions (Fall Session 1, Fall Session 2, and Spring Session 1).  

After completing three distinct rotations, the student has the following options: 

  1. Secure a Thesis Research Commitment and begin thesis research. 
  2. Rotate in a fourth research group.
  3. Return to a prior rotation for a revisit, without securing a commitment.

Students who worked in paid or unpaid research settings at UMMS prior to matriculation, including students in the PREP program, are not permitted to rotate in the lab of their previous mentor prior to the third rotation session, following two rotations in other distinct labs.  

GSBS provides financial support for all students through the entirety of their first academic year, regardless of when a student commits to a thesis research group. 

Thesis Research Commitment forms are due June 1. If a student does not secure a Thesis Research Commitment by June 1, the student will be advised by the GSBS Dean or Dean’s designee on selecting a fifth rotation session in order to obtain a thesis lab commitment.  

In rare, extenuating circumstances, after consultation with Student Affairs and the Academic Standards Committee, the Dean may provide a student with the opportunity to do a sixth rotation in the Early Fall session. 

Tips for Finding Research Rotations

  • Search the Rotation Finder Tool. Faculty listed have self-identified as having rotation opportunities and thesis funding available.
  • View the Virtual Faculty Poster Session website to view posters from the most recent sessions.
  • Having tentatively identified a potential rotation/thesis advisor and after reading some of their publications, ask to meet with them to discuss thesis research opportunities. When you meet, be prepared to discuss their science, the science you have undertaken thus far and the courses you have taken. Ask them if they can or would support you in thesis research if your rotation works out well.
  • Speak with other students in the faculty member's team to understand more about the research environment you would be immersed in for the next several years.
  • Remember that First Year Advisors and Program Directors are available to advise you about rotation and thesis mentors.

Administrative Requirements

Students must initiate a Research Rotation Agreement (BBS14) for each lab rotation. The agreement automatically circulates to all required signers after the student completes their portion. It is due within 2 weeks of the rotation start date.
Preview BBS14  |  Initiate BBS14 in DocuSign

Students must initiate a Thesis Advisor and Department Financial Agreement (BBS05) once a Thesis Advisor has been selected. The agreement automatically circulates to all required signers after the student completes their portion. 
Preview BBS05  |  Initiate BBS05 in DocuSign 

Rotation Finder Tool

Faculty Posters


Ask Annette Stratton
Assistant to the Dean
First Year Administrator

Ask Dr. Zitzewitz
Foundations Course Director

Ask your First-Year Advisor